Ueno Park is a large public park located in central Tokyo. It is the home to thousands of cherry trees, beautiful ponds, winding walkways and scenic gardens. It is also located just next to the famous shopping and dining area of, Ameyoko in Ueno. Every spring, Ueno Park is filled to capacity with visitors eager to view the blossoming cherry trees. This once-a-year spectacle is one of the well-known Japanese traditions that stems back thousands of years. The autumn season is also a beautiful time to view the park.
Ueno Park was first built in the late 19th century from lands that once belonged to the neighboring Kaneiji temple, which was once one of Tokyo's largest and wealthiest temples. Kaneiji temple was nearly destroyed during the Boshin Civil War in a battle between the new shogun loyalists and the victorious Meiji government. The remaining temple grounds were rebuilt and converted into Japan's first Western-style park.
Today, Ueno Park acts as a major hub between several of Japan's most prominent museums, shrines and temples. Shinobazu Pond can be found in the southern part of the park. This natural pond has been modified several times over the years. Presently, Shinobazu Pond connects Ueno Park to Ueno Zoo.
Visitors will be able to see some of the several varieties of migratory birds that nest in this area. It is nearly impossible to see all the attractions that Ueno Park has to offer in a single day. As a first time visitor, it's easy to become overwhelmed and lost. Listed below are some of Ueno Park's attractions.
Temples and Shrines Located Nearby
- Kaneiji Temple was once the largest and wealthiest temples in Tokyo. A majority of the temple was destroyed during the Boshin War, leaving only a few remaining structures behind. Some of these surviving structures include a five-storied pagoda and Tosogu Shrine. The newly rebuilt Kaneiji temple is considerably smaller and unremarkable. It is located in a small area near the northwest corner of Ueno Park.
- Kiyomizu Kannon Temple is one of the oldest temples in Tokyo, and it was built in 1631. The temple is a shrine to Kasodate Kannon, a fertility goddess who is the patron goddess of women seeking to have children.
- Toshogu Shrine was built in 1616, and it is one of the numerous shrines dedicated to Tokugawa Ieyasu, better known as the founder of the Edo Shogunate.
- Benetendo Temple is a uniquely shaped octagonal temple hall found on an island in Shinobazu Pond, located at the southern portion of the park. It is dedicated to the goddess Benten, who is the goddess of wealth, good fortune, knowledge and the fine arts.
Museums and Zoos
- Tokyo National Museum is the largest and oldest museum in Japan. It is made up of five separate buildings that are separate museums themselves. The Tokyo National Museum is the home of the largest collection of important cultural items and national treasures.
- The National Science Museum is a state-of-the-art natural history and science museum. It features robotic experiments; interactive physics demonstrations and a large collection of mounted animals.
- The Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum has recently re-opened after being closed for several months for renovations. Presently, the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum has no permanent collection, and it frequently features a number of temporary exhibitions.
- National Museum of Western Art primarily showcases the works of European artists, and it has both a permanent collection, as well as temporary exhibitions.
- Shitamachi Museum is a museum that features recreations and exhibits of Japanese life in the late Meiji and early Showa periods.
- Ueno Zoo is Japan's oldest zoo, and it caters to millions of visitors every year. Some of the Zoo's most popular exhibits include the giant panda bears and the interactive gorilla forest and tiger exhibits.